Like Bruce Lee, and Johnny Cash, Elmore Leonard is just one of those things that will always be cool. His books have utterly changed the face of the modern Crime and Western novel; there’s hardly a dud in the bunch. The movies adapted off those books have been much spottier though. Don't get me wrong there have been some great ones, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Valdez is Coming. But there have been just as many anonymous TV movies. The Big Bounce is neither. It’s a fun, competent little con game, and you won't remember a thing about half an hour out the door.
Less you think this movie is somewhat realistic let me give you a quick plot rundown. Owen Wilson plays Jack Ryan, a petty thief and landscaper. He's fired from his job when he beats up his foreman played by Vinnie Jones. The mistress of his former evil boss Ray (Gary Sinise), talks Jack into helping her steal 200,000 dollars earmarked for the mob from Ray and his enforcer Bob Rogers (Charlie Sheen). In the meantime, Jack Ryan works at Morgan Freeman's Motel while Woody Nelson sits around and looks cool and Harry Dean Stanton just sits around.
So let me run this by you again, Owen Wilson can beat up Vinnie Jones, Gary Sinise is a threat, and Charlie Sheen is an enforcer. Yeah.
Anyway brain bleeding miscasting aside, the rest of the movie is OK. The direction (By Grosse Point Blank director George Armitage) is suitably light and snazzy as is the cinematography. However, it pales when compared to Out of Sight or Jackie Brown. The acting is similar, since it is all fun and light. Owen Wilson is clearly having a blast, but Morgan Freeman practically announces that he is just here to pay for his beach house. Vinnie Jones appears absolutely sedated after the madness of his Bullet Tooth Tony and Big Chris characters. Charlie Sheen and Gary Sinese both look as befuddled to be in their respective roles of enforcer and the boss as I am to see them there. When you get right down to it that's the whole problem with The Big Bounce. The production seems half-assed. The script is good, but not that good. The direction is good but not that good. The actors are good people but for the most part do not give good performances. The half-assedness even spreads into the con itself, where, while there are the requisite double and triple crosses they are remarkably without passion. The story itself is a far crime from the twists of Jackie Brown. The Big Bounce is a soulless, calculated movie that no one gave half a crap about. Some people had fun making it, some didn't.
This however, does not mean that you cannot have fun watching it. Fact of the matter is that The Big Bounce is fun. Owen Wilson is having a good time and you will too. Just don't expect much else or you’ll end up frustrated.
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